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What to Do About a Cracked or Broken Car Windshield

The Windshield in My Car Just Broke, What Should I Do?


front windshield cracked
Attribution: Karen Roe, flickr


If the windshield in your car has just broken, the very first thing you need to do is stop the car and check to make sure no one was hurt. If anyone needs to have medical attention, it’s important to take care of that first and then assess the damage to the windshield. Whether you have a minor crack or a large break, the windshield should be fixed so it doesn’t impair the driver’s line of sight.

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When a windshield breaks, debris and weather including rain and snow can be blown into the car. It can also make it dangerous to drive because once it is broken, the pressure from the wind while driving can cause the glass to blow into the car. This can cause an accident that could result in bodily harm. The best thing to do when you have a broken windshield is park your car immediately to avoid more damage. If you are on a road trip or traveling long distance when the windshield breaks, you need to contact a quality auto glass company in the immediate area to make the necessary repairs or contact a reliable auto transport company to haul the car to your destination while you rent a car or take a bus or plane to get to where you are going safely.

If you are close to home and the break is small, you may be ok to drive to your house or to the nearest glass repair shop. Thankfully, windshield glass is made of laminated glass and when it breaks, it is designed to offer a high level of safety to avoid shattering. The windshield is made with two layers of glass with a layer of polycarbonate between the two layers. This helps keep car riders safe during an accident if the windshield breaks. Depending on the extent of damage to the windshield when it breaks, it may be possible to have it repaired rather than replaced. The glass repair shop will need to inspect it to determine what needs to be done.


Here are a few important steps to take once you have made sure everyone is safe and unharmed.

  1. Do Not Drive:

    (Except to get out of traffic) If the windshield is badly broken or appears to be coming out/off the car. The structural integrity of your car depends on a safe, properly installed windshield. For small breaks or cracks, again, you should be just fine driving home or to a glass repair shop that is nearby. Otherwise, have the car transported to a nearby shop.

  2. Wear Gloves: 

    Be sure to wear gloves if you have to deal with any broken glass and dispose of the broken glass in a way that others will not come in contact with it. Do not mix it with your regular trash.

  3. Vacuum Up Small Pieces of Glass: 

    Use a high-powered vacuum to pick up any small pieces of glass that may be present. It is important to make sure you get all the glass out of the car as even small pieces can damage upholstery. You should vacuum the car several times to make sure there are no small fragments left in cracks and crevices.

  4. Dispose of Glass Pieces: 

    once all the glass has been vacuumed and you feel confident that you have not missed any, be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag, or dump the canister into a trash bag for disposal. Even better, a plastic container works best for broken glass and will help ensure that no one can get cut once it is thrown away.

  5. Prepare the Area for Replacement:

    It is best to take a damp towel and clean around the window seal and windshield frame area to get it ready to seal up. Whether the windshield is repairable or will need to be replaced with a new windshield, you need to make sure the damaged area is sealed. For small breaks, you may be able to seal with tape to prevent water or snow from leaking into the car. For larger breaks, you need to cover the entire windshield with thick plastic and then tape the plastic down to seal the window. If you do not have plastic, it is best to use clear packing tape and layer the tape one strip at a time until the area is covered. You should tape from the inside to avoid damaging the paint on the car.

To prevent the elements from getting into your car, and to make sure you can continue driving safely, it is best to schedule window repair or replacement as soon as you can after the windshield breaks. ALWAYS have a reputable, qualified glass shop inspect and properly replace your windshield -ASAP.

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  • Thank you for your tips on what to do when my windshield breaks. I like how your tip about using a vacuum cleaner to deal with the small glass pieces. What I usually do to pick up small pieces of shattered glass is to use an adhesive tape. It’s also nice to know that we can get help from a professional to inspect and replace the windshield properly.

  • My cousin’s windshield cracked the other day due to someone breaking into her car. She doesn’t really know what to do nor how to handle this situation. I think that it’s smart to not drive a car with a broken windshield whether it’s only a little broken or it’s a lot broken. If my windshield ever cracks, I will be sure to heed that advice, unlike my cousin.

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